Reed Anthony, Cowman HTML version

XIV. Establishing A New Ranch
I hardly knew Fort Worth on my return. The town was in the midst of a boom. The
foundations of many store buildings were laid on Monday morning, and by
Saturday night they were occupied and doing a land-office business. Lots that
could have been bought in the spring for one hundred dollars were now
commanding a thousand, while land scrip was quoted as scarce at twenty-five
cents an acre. I hurried home, spoke to my wife, and engaged two surveyors to
report one week later at my ranch on the Clear Fork. Big as was the State and
boundless as was her public domain, I could not afford to allow this advancing
prosperity to catch me asleep again, and I firmly concluded to empty that little tin
trunk of its musty land scrip. True enough, the present boom was not noticeable
on the frontier, yet there was a buoyant feeling in the air that betokened a brilliant
future. Something enthused me, and as my creed was land and cattle, I made up
my mind to plunge into both to my full capacity.
The last outfit to return from the summer's drive was detained on the Clear Fork
to assist in the fall branding. Another one of fifteen men all told was chosen from
the relieved lads in making up a surveying party, and taking fifty saddle horses
and a well-stocked commissary with us, we started due west. I knew the country
for some distance beyond Fort Griffin, and from late maps in possession of the
surveyors, we knew that by holding our course, we were due to strike a fork of
the mother Brazos before reaching the Staked Plain. Holding our course contrary
to the needle, we crossed the Double Mountain Fork, and after a week out from
the ranch the brakes which form the border between the lowlands and the Llano
Estacado were sighted. Within view of the foothills which form the approach of
the famous plain, the Salt and Double Mountain forks of the Brazos are not over
twelve miles apart. We traveled up the divide between these two rivers, and
when within thirty miles of the low-browed borderland a halt was called and we
went into camp. From the view before us one could almost imagine the feelings
of the discoverer of this continent when he first sighted land; for I remember the
thrill which possessed our little party as we looked off into either valley or forward
to the menacing Staked Plain in our front. There was something primal in the
scene,--something that brought back the words, "In the beginning God created
the heavens and the earth." Men who knew neither creed nor profession of faith
felt themselves drawn very near to some great creative power. The surrounding
view held us spellbound by its beauty and strength. It was like a rush of fern-
scents, the breath of pine forests, the music of the stars, the first lovelight in a
mother's eye; and now its pristine beauty was to be marred, as covetous eyes
and a lust of possession moved an earth-born man to lay hands on all things
created for his use.
Camp was established on the Double Mountain Fork. Many miles to the north, a
spur of the Plain extended eastward, in the elbow of which it was my intention to
locate the new ranch. A corner was established, a meridian line was run north